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Fido, Heal!

Pets are helping patients recover in hospital

The hospital might be the last place you'd expect to see a dog roaming the hallways, but many U.S. hospitals are now using dogs and other animals to help their patients heal, reports this article from Time magazine.

These canine candy stripers are being used from coast to coast to relax patients, to assist in rehabilitation, or to motivate patients. The Delta Society is one of the few organizations that certifies animals for patient therapy, and it currently has 4,500 "pet partners." Those pets have gone on hundreds of thousands of hospital visits in 45 states, according to the article.

Insurance companies have yet to recognize the benefits of pet therapy and don't offer reimbursement. Also, few studies have been done on animal therapy because of lack of funding. "Low-tech solutions in health care are often overlooked," says Nancy Dapper from the Delta Society. "But we are at a point where consumer demand will drive hospitals to offer animal-assisted services."

Not just any dog can be a canine therapist. The dog must enjoy being around people, be calm but not aloof, and be polite, says this article from Dog-Play.

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